BACKGROUND. Medical and dental students often participate in joint basic science curricula, such as the basic science curriculum at the University of
Pretoria, South Africa. Reports from the USA and Australia, however, show that it may be problematic because joint basic science curricula are mostly
tailored around the needs of the medical students only, which may lead to prejudice and marginalisation of dental students. There are no local studies
to inform decision-making in this regard.
OBJECTIVES. To determine whether dental students perceived the joint basic science curriculum at the University of Pretoria to be relevant to their
needs and if they felt marginalised.
METHODS. Reflective essays with regard to the 2011 and 2012 second-year dental students’ perceptions of the first 2 years of study in the joint
curriculum were qualitatively analysed using a thematic approach. Frequency distributions of the identified themes were also calculated.
RESULTS. Despite positive comments, the dental students perceived that the joint basic science curriculum at the University of Pretoria may not be
relevant to their needs and that they are being marginalised in the teaching and learning processes.
CONCLUSION. The current study highlights the need for improvements in the manner in which joint basic science curricula are being administered in
order to foster interprofessional collaboration. Alternatively, dental and medical students should be separated to ensure that the educational objectives
of basic science curricula are being met for minority groups, such as dental students.